Chemical or pharmaceutical companies generate a lot of valuable data which are currently not fully explored because of laborious (pre-)processing activities and the limitations of the available software tools which are typically designed to meet one specific objective. Data generation, however, is going to intensify over the coming years with the growing number of sensors, software applications and data storage capacity. This project aims to maximize data usage in a real-time manner for the benefit of chemical process development and manufacturing ensuring improved process optimization and operational excellence.


The main goal of the DAP² project will be to effectively implement real time data usage on several test-case processes/unit operations.
Specific tasks and goals to achieve the main goal:

  • To develop and setup a suitable data architecture (data warehousing) that allows machine learning enabled feedback loops in highly regulated environments
  • To develop and test machine-learning/AI data analysis platform
  • Perform test and learns on real time cases and evaluate modelling and data warehouse strategies

Turning CO2 in value-added chemicals

The chemical industry is the largest industrial consumer of fossil fuels in the world. Reducing the industry’s overall dependence on so-called petrochemicals to reduce the greenhouse effect is one of the great scientific challenges of our time. Using waste CO2 (as an alternative carbon feedstock) and transforming it into value-added chemicals, also known as Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU), has the potential to address this challenge. This will result in new business opportunities for the chemical industry.

With the support of CATALISTI, the Flemish Government recently provided a significant boost to establish a technology platform for CCU by funding three research projects for a total budget of 6 million euro. The CO2PERATE(1) project aims to develop catalytic technologies to convert CO2 into formic acid, using renewable electricity. Formic acid will subsequently be used as building block for the biosynthetic production of value added chemicals, as a building block for the chemical industry, or as a potential carrier for energy storage. A decision support framework will be developed to select the best available technology for CO2 utilization within a given techno-economic context. The CATCO2RE project focuses on the conversion of CO2 to methane and methanol using solar energy, integrating new developments in the production of solar hydrogen with catalyst design and state-of-the-art separation technologies, allowing for the integrated production of solar fuels. Both research projects gather a multidisciplinary team of scientists from several Flemish research institutes, and involve an industrial advisory board who are eager to implement the results and create economic valorisation. The CAPRA(2) project aims to develop an anaerobic biological process technology for converting undistilled syngas fermentation products to a bio-oil of medium-chain carboxylic acids, that can serve as feedstock for the production of added-value chemicals. This project matches a demand from two industries: the steel-making industry (ArcelorMittal), that is looking for opportunities to valorize waste gases, and the chemical industry (Proviron), that is looking for alternative and sustainable sources of carboxylic acids as building blocks for the production of chemicals. The development of the biological process technology will be performed jointly by Ghent University and OWS. A life-cycle assessment (Ghent University and OWS) and techno-economic assessment (VITO) will highlight the feasibility and environmental benefits of the CAPRA process technology.

Apart from these recently approved ‘Flemish’ projects, some Interreg and European projects in which Flemish partners are actively involved were also recently approved. Among these projects are:

  • EnOp (Interreg) (3)
  • E2C (Interreg) (4)
  • MicroSync (NWO) (5)
  • Carbon4PUR (EU) (6)
  • BioRECO2VER (EU) (7)
  • BIOCON-CO2 (EU) (8)
  • IMPACT (EU) (9)

The potentially new business models originating from CO2 utilization within all these projects are expected to contribute significantly to economic and sustainable growth in Flanders and Europe’s circular economy.

Picture: CO2PERATE consortium at the kick-off meeting in Ghent



B4Plastics, small company, great innovations!

B4Plastics is a young technology company that designs, develops and distributes new ecological plastics. The polymeric materials are designed to fulfill application criteria. They make use of established or novel building blocks to result in novel backbones. That way, a new balance between functionality, cost and ecology is offered in the resulting materials.


A one-man business

With a background in corporate chemical industry, and having inventarised a wide spectrum of scientific possibilities for “greening plastics”, the time was mature to create B4plastics: help partners and customers to green their plastics products and practices. Grown from a “one-man business” at the very beginning, B4plastics now forms a small international team that develops, produces and markets its first eco-plastic products.

At B4plastics, we have a young tradition to launch products that set new ecological standards in their respective markets. This has been the case for Ecotrim, COMPOST3D® and Biorix® (see, and each product is subjected to innovation cycles that bring them to a next generation with an improved [cost – functionality – ecology] balance. That way, the products keep up their pioneering promise over the years and challenge the incumbent plastic producers to green their product portfolio. The B4plastics products also provoke governments to speed up sustainable legislation, by showing which new ecological standards become possible in the respective market.

Innovation process

Catalisti has played an important role in the first years of B4plastics, by linking and framing the innovation practices of the company with surrounding partner companies. As a result, pioneering technology and business targets are synergized with Flemish partners, giving Flanders the perspective of world-class innovation.

The current plastics industry comes in a dynamic transition towards more sustainable practices. Legislation is kicking in, media start to report on the dynamics on a weekly or even daily basis, and customers raise their voices and give their input. Plastics are becoming the hotspot of criticism, though they have brought us admirable wealth in their first generation. It is clear that we gradually need to shift into a next generation of plastics: those that are better adapted to sustainable business practices, and those that are better understood by their users. It is the belief of B4plastics that the transition can only be successful if a socially responsible production is linked to a socially responsible consumption. Therefore, the company strives for an improved relationship between plastic products and their consumers. By developing novel ecological material platforms, and by cultivating this important relationship, the company hopes to fulfill a unique role in the plastics industry.


Converting CO2 into fuel wins prize for most promising scientist for University of Antwerp Researcher

Marleen Ramakers, a chemist at the PLASMANT research group of the University of Antwerp, is developing a method to convert waste gases such as carbon dioxide into useful fuels. She is awarded the Eos Pipet, an award for most promising scienteist, for her research. The verdict of the jury: ‘Marleen Ramakers has built a reactor that can lead to a usable application for the sustainable storage of energy. The step between the lab and industry is small. Marleen already made several important contributions to science at a young age. ‘

Read the full article on the Eos website (in Dutch):


Approval of 4 EFRO-projects for our cluster

In July 2017, the Flemish government has launched an EFRO-call for the “Support of spreading technologies with the purpose of valorization and commercialization” within its Cluster policy. After an application and evaluation process, four projects from our cluster were approved and granted.

In the first project, LignoValue Pilot, VITO and its partners Jacobs België NV and VMH will construct a pilot line (TRL 5-6, production capacity of ± 200 kg/day) for the conversion of wood/lignin into biobased aromatics. This will allow the production of larger amounts of these biobased aromatics, as such allowing companies to take further steps in their application development path. The aim will be to design the pilot line as flexible as possible to demonstrate different depolymerization processes. For this purpose, the most preferential conversion technologies  that will be identified in the recently-approved Catalisti project ‘Bio-Aromatics Feedstock Technology Assessment (BAFTA)’ (in which a thorough landscape analysis including the most promising technologies for isolating and depolymerization of lignin will be made)  will be implemented on relevant scale.

Also, two projects coordinated by member companies were granted. Within the DUVAL project, Agfa Gevaert will implement and provide a continuous thin film evaporator platform for the Flemish chemical industry. The InQbet Accelerator project from P&G has the aim to increase the success of start-ups and growth companies in commercialising innovative products and business models.

In the fourth project, Bio Base Flow, the BioBase Europe Pilot Plant will accelerate technology transfer and improve project management by means of new processing equipment and an innovative concept of partner hubs and project management room with integrated infrastructure for process steering.



Reduction of emissions and sustainable (solvents in) polyurethane coating

Project information
Project type: COOP Cooperative Research and Development
Starting date: July 1st 2018
Total project budget: To be determined
Subsidy: To be determined

With certain textile PU coating processes solvent is used or even combinations of solvents. For the removal of the solvent gas emissions, the companies use air purification techniques like scrubbers, rotor concentrators and post combustion. In cases where the gas streams have a medium or high load, the efficiency of current technologies is not high enough to reduce the solvent to the required minimum concentrations. The textile coating companies in Flanders are subjected to stricter controls, by the regulation agencies, compared to competitors outside Flanders. The companies need a robust, reliable and efficient emission gas treatment to be combined with their current technique to secure their operations in Flanders.
A feasibility desktopstudy was already performed. This study screened 16 technologies for this use and concluded that 6 technologies show potential to meet the screening criteria: compatibility with running production systems and installations, (expected) effect and efficiency on removal of solvent, ecological and economical sustainability and “user friendly” (working conditions for operators, etc).


The overall goal of this project will be to tackle persistent issues in the use of the solvent in polyurethane coating applications. The main, short term development will consist of pilot scale solvent emission reduction. The secondary, longer term goal comprises the development of new, sustainable solvents for PU dispersions and coating processes to replace the current solvents while striving to preserve existing coating infrastructure.


There is no knowledge gap in the project. No additional partners are required. This document is a notification of a new project.
Please contact Leentje Croes (, +32 472 889 776) if you have questions concerning this notification.


New VLAIO call for pilot and demo projects

The focus of this call is on projects aimed at pilot scale or demo activities that are carried out at the level of an individual company or within a collaboration between two or more companies. This means that sufficient maturity is available at the start of the project (eg proof of concept on a smaller scale) but that no commercial rollout is possible yet.

More information:

Catalisti members can get free guidance and support from Catalisti, please contact Leentje Croes (


Vlaanderen Circulair launches new OPEN CALL Circular Economy

Vlaanderen Circulair launches two project calls to support innovative and valuable projects.

CALL 1: Circular purchasing
These subsidies are intended for those who have registered as purchasers or supporting parties in the Green Deal Circular Purchasing. Cooperation between partners of the Green Deal is also possible.

CALL 2: Circulair city and entrepeneurship
These subsidies are intended for (the partnerships of) local authorities, companies, research institutions, organizations and citizens. We encourage collaborations with other parties in the value chain (from producer to consumer and back).

more information:


Van matras tot isolatiemateriaal: Recticel brengt circulaire economie in de praktijk

Innovatieproject van Catalisti resulteert in opstart van unieke pilootlijn bij Recticel

Brussel, 28 maart 2018 – De schuimvulling uit oude, gebruikte matrassen een tweede leven geven, bijvoorbeeld als isolatiemateriaal. Dat is op termijn het opzet van een unieke pilootlijn die vandaag bij Recticel in Wetteren is opgestart door Vlaams minister Philippe Muyters. De baanbrekende recyclagetechnologie is de voorbije jaren ontwikkeld tijdens een sectoroverschrijdend innovatieproject van Catalisti, de speerpuntcluster voor duurzame chemie en kunststoffen. De sector brengt zo de circulaire economie in de praktijk.

Bij Recticel mocht Philippe Muyters, Vlaams minister van Werk, Economie, Innovatie en Sport, vandaag zowel de nieuwe labo’s van het Sustainable Innovation Department inhuldigen als een pilootlijn opstarten voor de recyclage van polyurethaan (PU) soepelschuim uit matrassen. In het Sustainable Innovation Department werken 100 R&D-medewerkers van Recticel voortaan samen in een ultramodern en duurzaam gebouw. Daar ontwikkelen ze in diverse labo’s nieuwe materialen en processen voor de verschillende divisies in de Recticel-groep.

De pilootlijn voor de recyclage van soepelschuim moet op termijn hergebruik van grondstoffen uit oude matrassen mogelijk maken. De technologie is de voorbije jaren ontwikkeld binnen het ALFIBOND-project van speerpuntcluster Catalisti, samen met Recticel, tapijtproducent Balta, machinebouwer Matthys Group, VITO (Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek) en Centexbel, het onderzoekscentrum voor de textielindustrie.

Momenteel verwerkt Recticel al productieafval van PU-schuim tot akoestisch isolatiemateriaal. Zo ligt Simfofit, een materiaal voor geluidsisolatie in woningen, vandaag al in de doe-het-zelfzaak. Met de opstart van de pilootlijn wil Recticel nu nagaan of er nog andere recyclage-toepassingen mogelijk zijn. Zo anticipeert het bedrijf op de terugnameplicht voor matrassen die mogelijk vanaf 2021 wordt ingevoerd. Al dienen er daarvoor nog een aantal drempels op vlak van regelgeving en technologie overwonnen te worden.

Philippe Muyters, Vlaams minister van Werk, Economie, Innovatie en Sport. “Recticel bewijst de meerwaarde van anders denken over “afval” en anders omgaan met grondstoffen en materialen. Het is fantastisch om te zien dat het bedrijf proactief nadenkt over de toekomstige terugnameplicht voor matrassen, en daarvoor resoluut inzet op dé Vlaamse grondstof bij uitstek: onze hersenen. Recticel maakt echt het verschil dankzij innovatie en de focus op circulaire economie. Maar ook de toegevoegde waarde van Catalisti valt niet te ontkennen: de samenwerking tussen onderzoek en industrie maakte de technologie van de pilootlijn mogelijk. Dat is exact waarvoor we de speerpuntclusters in het leven geroepen hebben.”

Frank Beckx, gedelegeerd bestuurder essenscia vlaanderen: “Met de opstart van deze unieke pilootlijn trekt Recticel duidelijk de kaart van de circulaire economie. Het is een prachtig voorbeeld van de manier waarop Catalisti kennis omzet in economische meerwaarde. Bij Recticel zie je ook de chemie in zijn meest concrete vorm: isolatie, matrassen, lichtgewichtkunststoffen. Het zijn materialen die extra comfort bieden, maar die tijdens hun gebruiksfase vaak ook energie besparen en de CO2-uitstoot beperken.”

Jan Van Havenbergh, Managing Director Catalisti: “Deze investering van Recticel toont aan dat de aanpak van Catalisti werkt. De omschakeling naar een circulaire economie is een belangrijke maatschappelijke uitdaging. Als speerpuntcluster spelen we hierin een cruciale rol door open innovatie te stimuleren waarbij kleine en grote ondernemingen uit diverse sectoren samenwerken met kennisinstellingen. Met resultaat, want heel wat partnerbedrijven hebben recent investeringen in pilootlijnen, labo’s en R&D-centra gerealiseerd of aangekondigd.”

Bekijk ook de videoreportage over de nieuwe pilootlijn bij Recticel:



The innovation journey of Samsonite

For over a century, Samsonite has been a byword for exceptional luggage. From the simple wooden trunk designed by company founder Jesse Shwayder in 1910, to modern cases like Cosmolite and NeoPulse, which combine bold design with cutting-edge technology, Samsonite has been by the traveler’s side, meeting their needs, exceeding their expectations, and anticipating their demands. The global travel industry never stands still, but, through its 108-year lifespan, Samsonite has maintained its focus on quality, functionality and durability to meet the changing lifestyle needs of people on the move. Along the way, there have been many notable “firsts” – first plastic case, first suitcase on wheels, first upright case, first four-wheeled “spinner” case – that have not only helped take the strain out of travelling, but have also been in the vanguard of transforming the industry through innovation.

These innovations also resulted in a success story for the Samsonite site in Oudenaarde. The development of the process to thermoform Curv material, a reinforced polypropylene material, resulted in the suitcase Cosmolite, the lightest suitcase available on the market at that time. Weighing only 3.4 kg, outperforming the competition which weighed about 5kg at the time. Through continuous innovations the weight has further dropped to as low as 2.5 kg. The success of this innovation guaranteed the future of the Samsonite site at Oudenaarde and resulted in a strong R&D department.

Currently Samsonite employs 34 people in R&D in Belgium. Together with R&D centers in the US and Asia, these teams enable the development of products that cater to the nuances in consumer requirements in each market. Our regional focus on innovation and product development not only allows Samsonite to react quickly to changing demand and evolving consumer tastes, but also sets it apart from other companies operating in the global consumer space and keeps it at the forefront of the industry.

The network provided by Catalisti allows Samsonite to find the required expertise and partner up with the most adequate industrial or knowledge partners for initiating open innovation projects. The innovation goals within Samsonite also correspond perfectly within the innovation program of Catalisti regarding sustainable chemistry. For example designing advanced sustainable products with lightweight properties, Suitcases are made for transport of goods, the lighter they are the less fuel consumption in the car/the plane. Samsonite is setting the standards for lightweight luggage. It is in the genes of the Samsonite organization to look for innovation opportunities outside of its own walls. That is why Samsonite was one of the founders of Flanders Plasticvision, that later became integrated in the Catalisti cluster.

Today, the transition to a circular economy is a crucial next step in whichthe recycling of plastic materials will become increasingly important. Samsonite is already actively working on minimizing waste on production level and incorporating recycling to a certain degree. This year already, Samsonite will bring an ecoline onto the market. It is a line based on the successful S’Cure line, where the shells will consist of 100% regrind material coming from own production waste. Until last year, this material was sold as waste.

In the future Samsonite will continue to invest in innovation projects. Together with the help of Catalisti, innovation opportunities can be identified, the required expertise of industrial partners or research institutes can be located and the appropriate funding can be requested to cooperate in these R&D projects.